Michael Rosenthal

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. gets it right this time: Weekend Review

BIGGEST WINNER

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Junior doesn’t deserve credit for preparing properly for his rematch with Bryan Vera on Saturday in San Antonio. That’s what a professional is supposed to do. The good news for him is that he might finally get it. He obviously was ill-prepared when he pulled out a controversial decision over the gritty Vera in September. He was just as obviously in shape and focused on Saturday, when he controlled the fight from the opening bell by landing more and harder punches than Vera. The result was a well-earned unanimous decision – 117-111, 117-111 and 114-113 – and one of his most impressive performances. The fans seemed to finally sour on Chavez (48-1-1, 32 knockouts) after the first fight with Vera, when it seemed clear that he had a tenuous commitment to the sport. He probably won back many of those fans on Saturday. We look forward to him fighting the likes of Gennady Golovkin. He might not win but now, perhaps, we can expect an honest effort. And kudos to Vera (23-8, 14 KOs), who once again came up just short but gave a spirited effort. He knows how to entertain the masses, which can’t be underestimated.

BIGGEST LOSER

Vasyl Lomachenko: Elite boxers are often criticized for doing everything in their power to avoid meaningful challenges. Lomachenko made the choice to face one head-on with limited pro experience. He should be applauded. The decision to fight tough veteran Orlando Salido on the Chavez-Vera card was a significant gamble, though. And it didn’t pay off. The fight was billed as an attempt by Lomachenko to make history by winning a major title – the vacant WBO featherweight version – in his second pro fight. The problem was that Salido had 54. And, to make matters worse, the Mexican entered the ring at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds – 11 more than Lomachenko – after rehydration. Thus, the result, a split-decision victory for Salido, shouldn’t have been a shock. The Ukrainian gave us glimpses of his special ability but didn’t have the guile to overcome a resilient, experienced pro who knows how to rough up an opponent. The night was hardly a disaster for Lomachenko, though. He lost a fight but gained valuable experience that comes with fighting someone like Salido (41-12-2, 28 KOs) as opposed to the pushovers on which rising young stars typically feed. Lomachenko will return to the ring a better fighter, which doesn’t bode well for other featherweights.

RABBIT PUNCHES

Another big fight, another head-scratching scorecard. This time it was Oklahoma-based David Sutherland, who somehow scored the Chavez-Vera fight 114-113 in Chavez’s favor. Vera lost a point for leaning on Chavez, meaning Sutherland gave six rounds to each fighter even though Chavez was the clear winner. Argh. … Congrats to HBO analyst Max Kellerman for clearly stating the obvious on Saturday’s broadcast. He was referring to the discrepancy in Lomachenko’s pro record when he said: “If you’re getting paid to fight, it’s a pro fight. It’s very simple.” Lomachenko is actually 7-1, not 1-1, because he was paid to fight six times in the World Series of Boxing. … As pointed out by RING Contributing Editor Brian Harty, Lomachenko might want to embrace Fight Fax’s version of his record: 7-1 looks a lot better than 1-1. … Former three-time lightweight champ Juan Diaz (39-4, 19 KOs) is 4-0 in his comeback after outpointing Gerardo Robles (16-13, 7 KOs) on the Chavez-Vera card. … Terrence Crawford (23-0, 16 KOs) took an important step in his career on Saturday in Scotland, fairly easily outpointing Ricky Burns to win the WBO lightweight title. Crawford, only 26, is now a major player among 135-pounders. Burns (36-3-1, 11 KOs) now has consecutive shaky performances. He drew with Raymundo Beltran last September, a fight most observers thought Beltran won. The Scot has a lot of work ahead of him if he hopes to bounce back. …

Arthur Abraham (39-4, 28 KOs) deserves a mention here. The two-division titleholder who performed so poorly in the Super Six World Boxing Classic and has been written off more than once outpointed the capable Robert Stieglitz (46-4, 26 KOs) in the rubber match of their three-fight series Saturday in Magdeburg, Germany. Abraham regained the WBO 168-pound belt he lost to Stieglitz in March of last year. … Middleweight prospect J’Leon Love (17-0, 10 KOs) gave a good performance en route to a 10th-round technical knockout of Vladine Biosse (15-3-2, ) on Friday in Verona, N.Y. Love had to contend with a guy who was both resilient and very determined, which required Love to work extremely hard. He rose to the occasion. On the same card, capable but limited Derek Edwards (27-3-1, 14 KOs) put an emphatic halt to Badou Jack’s momentum, stopping the Swede only 1:01 into their super middleweight fight. Jack (16-1-1, 11 KOs) lives in Las Vegas. … Hard-punching Jelena Mrdjenovich (32-9-1, 16 KOs) had to settle for a decision over Kenyan Fatuma Zarika on Saturday in Mrdjenovich’s hometown of Edmonton, Canada. Zarika (24-8-1, 14 KOs) has lost her biggest fights but has never been stopped.

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